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Thursday 19 September 2019

Dublin needs 3,000 hotel rooms or it will continue to lose trade

JLL senior vice president for hotels Daniel O'Connor
JLL senior vice president for hotels Daniel O'Connor

Peter Flanagan, Gavin Mcloughlin and Louise Kelly

Dublin needs as many as 3,000 new hotel rooms or it will continue to lose out on events like the Web Summit, a new report warns.

The report from property agents Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) said barely 500 hotel rooms were built in Dublin since 2010 - and only 300 are due to be added by the end of next year.

As a result, occupancy rates in the city stand at 84pc. There are about 19,000 hotel rooms in Dublin at present, but that needs to increase to 22,000.

The report came as a bitter row broke out over who was to blame for high hotel prices during the Web Summits in Dublin over recent years.

Web Summit organisers claimed that the high cost of hotels had been one of the reasons why they were moving the event to Lisbon next year.

But hoteliers slated the Summit's claim that the industry jacked up its prices for the event, and said they offered thousands of rooms at low prices for the week but were rejected by the event organisers.

In a strongly worded statement the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said it offered 3,000 "bed nights" that could be block booked for the Web Summit during talks it initiated with "senior members of the Web Summit team".

The IHF said that this facility - which is offered to organisers of many large events and conferences in Dublin - would have provided the organisers with "access to advance booking rates for thousands of hotel rooms at very competitive prices".

"However, the Web Summit, for its own commercial reasons, decided not to avail of this facility and dealt separately with hotels on an individual basis," it said.

The federation added that in the weeks running up to the event its members offered more rooms at "similarly reduced rates" but the Web Summit also rejected that offer.

Web Summit head of communications Mike Harvey did not comment on the claims except to say that the summit was "pleased that the IHF recognises the importance of offering competitive rates to attract international attendees".

Dublin hotel prices will continue to rise, however, if availability remains an issue, according to JLL.

According to JLL, the average price of a room is now €127 - an increase of nearly a fifth in a year.

Revenue per available room - the key measure of profitability in the hotel industry - has jumped 23pc in the last year.

JLL senior vice president for hotels Daniel O'Connor said that even if those extra 3,000 rooms were to be built, there would still be little slack in the system.

"Improving levels of corporate and leisure bed night demand in Dublin city are fuelling the demand for new hotel developments," he said.

"Such is the strength of the Dublin hotel market, we estimate that average occupancy levels in the city would still remain at 80pc, even if 3,000 additional guest rooms were to come online today," he said.

A number of hoteliers are known to be assessing sites around Dublin - but even if construction started now it would be at least 12 to 18 months before they were finished.

Irish Independent

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